OUTGOING British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing, yesterday triggered a fierce social media fight with local opposition parties after she “mistakenly” liked a tweet urging President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to tighten the noose on citizens’ freedoms.
Although Laing later posted another tweet claiming her fingers had strayed and pressed the like button for the controversial tweet, the parties were less convinced, as they accused her of openly supporting Zanu PF ahead of this month’s elections.
Laing burnt her fingers when she “liked” a tweet from @ali_naka, which read: “The excessive freedoms now being enjoyed in some parts of Zim need to be put in check as soon as possible.”
“Thanks for flagging. This is a clumsy finger scrolling through my timeline. I did not mean to like. I don’t even recall seeing the original tweet,” she said.
Before the seemingly latest fallout, the UK and United States governments, together with the European Union (EU), were the darling of opposition parties after they imposed targeted sanctions against top Zanu PF leaders fingered in gross human rights abuses and clamping down on citizens’ fundamental freedoms.
Laing’s tweet came after Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) commissioner Netsai Mushonga also courted similar controversy by “liking” a tweet ridiculing the opposition.
“Opposition parties’ fixation with Zec administrative roles betrays gripping fear of electoral loss. Zec has, however, been equally to the task through transparency. Elections are won through people-centred policies, not this hullabaloo on trivialities,” read the tweet liked by Mushonga.
In a recent radio interview, Mushonga said she had no regrets over the controversial tweets, saying she related with the message.
UK-based constitutional law expert Alex Magaisa was quick to point out that such reckless public actions by the Zec commissioner eroded public confidence in the organisation.
“Here’s a Zec commissioner showing some love for a tweet that ridicules the opposition and its efforts to hold Zec accountable and they wonder why the opposition is sceptical of Zec? It’s like watching the referee cavorting with supporters of the other team,” Magaisa said.